California's Child

May 24, 2012
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Another gunshot rang out as Diego ducked behind the red truck. His black hair was matted with blood as its warm stickiness dripped onto his brow. The red bandana he wore was soaked as he ripped it off to mop his head. Crouching near one of the tires, he paused to quickly reload the glock. Hands slick with blood, Diego almost dropped the gun as it slipped past his fingers. Sweat gleamed on his tawny skin as he fumbled to insert the ammunition.

Carajo! He thought, as a bullet fell with a clang. Diego paused to scan the area for any members of Los Lunas, one of the biggest Latino drug trafficking gangs in Los Angles. The gunfight began an hour ago after the bastards had intercepted one of the coke shipments meant for Diego’s gang this morning. Gritting his teeth, he twisted to fire a series of shots, wincing as white-hot pain pierced his side.

Pausing, he settled his head against the truck, closing his eyes as blood pounded in his temple. Only seventeen and Diego had seen more than his share of the cruel world. He knew the dangers of being in a gang, but being a busboy at the Hilton wasn’t enough to support his mom and four brothers, as he thought about the small two-bedroom apartment they had. A bullet whizzed by, interrupting his thoughts.

Dodging any stray bullets, he carefully made his way to the car across from him. Crouching low, he inhaled sharply as he reached down to push aside the bottom of his shirt, crusty with blood. The large wound flushed a crimson red as it glistened against the sun. Taking out the bandana, Diego grimaced as he tied the stiff material around his waist, hoping to staunch the flow of blood as the roughness of the fabric managed to sting the tender skin around the large gash.

“Madre de dios,” He exhaled through clenched teeth; as he stood up to survey the area once more before his eyes landed on a stray body less than fifty feet away. A blow of realization hit him as he staggered in shock before breaking out in a full sprint.

“Alex!” he yelled, unaware of the fact he was racing into the open field. Dropping to his knees, Diego felt his vision blur as tears splattered onto the pavement beside the body of his little brother. No, he didn’t want this. This wasn’t supposed to happen! Fingers tightened around thin shoulders as Diego stared into the vacant eyes of what was left of the fifteen-year-old. He must have followed me from school, he thought before noticing the wound at the side of Alex’s head. What have I done?

A final shot rang out as fresh blood splattered on Alex’s clothing. Shocked, Diego looked down as blood gushed from his chest. Numb with pain, he reached up to touch the wound, his fingers staining red. “I’m sorry, mi hermano.” He whispered to his brother before collapsing to the ground.

Minutes passed as he stared at the dry California sun, listening to the wailing of sirens in the distance.





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